Oh my goodness. I never thought any book would have me weeping more than A Little Life, but Catherine Newman’s We All Want Impossible Things broke that record along the floodgates. This is not to say the novel is a depressing one: in fact, its depictions of life-affirming, forever-friendships veritably burst with love and wit. Newman perfectly captures the confusing contradictions that accompany end-of-life care: the emergencies among the mundanity, the darkly hilarious moments that punctuate the slow-motion, eviscerating heartbreak. Some readers who’ve said goodbye to terminally ill beloveds may find that their wounds are too raw for this novel. I, on the other hand, read it a few months after cancer took a very close friend of mine and I found it to be incredibly cathartic. Many moments were eerily—no, magically!—similar to moments I shared with Becky toward the end. I underlined like mad and scribbled in the margins; more than once I started to make a mental note to share certain excerpts with Becky, knowing she’d recognize herself and our friendship in the words, then remembering she’s not anywhere I can reach her. Five stars. Pairs well with Kathryn Schulz’s Lost & Found and/or Janine Kwoh’s Welcome to the Grief Club.
We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman (List Price: $25.99, Harper, 9780063230897, November 2022)
Reviewed by Janet Geddis, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia